Jody Stowell wrote a great article in The Independent, a couple of years ago, on the vicar’s reaction to people only appearing in church at Christmas:
Do I mind that people come to church at Christmas and occasionally at Easter, and remain absent the rest of the year? The honest answer is yes and no. Of course I want people to come to church each Sunday, but do not think for one moment that I care one tiny jot about bums on seats. When people come to church at Christmas, I would like to see them again, simply because they have made the connection between the twinkly lights in the darkness and the Light that Shines in the Darkness.
You may only come to church at Christmas, but it really is Christmas every day.
Some interesting links from the world of Christianity & Theology:
One in five Brits do not know Jesus Christ born on 25 December, study finds: Report that a study has found that one in five British people do not know that the birth of Jesus is celebrated on Christmas Day.
Church of England trains leaders to help deal with terror trauma: Report on the Tragedy and Congregations project to help churches respond to the impact of tragedies through training ordinands in good practice, reflection and personal resilience. One of my old lecturers, project director Professor Christopher Southgate, from the University of Exeter, is quoted.
Cassock chasers and compromised clergy: A response to abuse in the Church: blog by Dean of St Paul’s about Safeguarding and how the Church should respond better to survivors.
Oldest complete Latin Bible set to return to UK after 1,302 years: the oldest complete Bible written in Latin, Codex Amiatinus, one of the great treasures of the Anglo Saxon world, is to return to Britain after more than 1,300 years. It will be lent to the British Library for a 2018 exhibition, Anglo Saxon Kingdoms, by the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence.
Public trust in priests has fallen to an all-time low: how do other professions compare?: Report that public trust in priests and clergy has reached an all time low, according to figures from Ipsos Mori’s long running Veracity Index. Of 988 adults polled, 65% said they trusted priests to tell the truth in 2017, down from 69% in 2016.
Christians are deemed to be dangerous, says Tim Farron: Report on a speech given by former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron at the annual lecture of the think tank Theos.
Sam Storms, the lead pastor for preaching and vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, has written a fascinating blog post reflecting on nearly 40 years of pastoral ministry.
I’m not sure I full subscribe to everything he has written – for example I would fully subscribe to women being fully involved in church leadership. But there’s a lot of gold in this article – a few highlights that resonated for me:
1. I wish I’d known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines.
3. I wish I’d known how deeply and incessantly many (most?) people suffer. Having been raised in a truly functional family in which everyone knew Christ and loved one another, I was largely oblivious to the pain endured by most people who’ve never known that blessing. For too many years I naively assumed that if I wasn’t hurting, neither were they. I wish I’d realized the pulpit isn’t a place to hide from the problems and pain of one’s congregation; it’s a place to address, commiserate with, and apply God’s Word to them.
6. I wish I’d known how vital it is to understand yourself and to be both realistic and humble regarding what you find. Don’t be afraid to be an introvert or extrovert (or some mix of the two). Be willing to take steps to compensate for your weaknesses by surrounding yourself with people unlike you, who make up for your deficiencies and challenge you in healthy ways to be honest about what you can and cannot do.
10. I wish I’d known about the destructive effects of insecurity in a pastor. This is less because I’ve struggled with it and more due to its effect I’ve seen in others. Why is insecurity so damaging?
Statistics from the Church of England for 2013 show that the number of young people (under 30s) accepted for training for the Church of England ministry continue to be the highest number in the past 20 years. Young people now represent 23% of those entering training. The statement went on to say:
The Ministry Division of the Archbishops’ Council is continuing to be proactive in recruiting young ordinands through providing conferences and training opportunities such as the Ministry Experience Scheme being piloted in 2013/14, which is looking to be extended from four Diocese for the academic year 2014/15.
The Archbishop of York will be hosting a conference, Step Forward 2014, for young people considering ordination. The event will take place at Bishopthorpe Palace, and the Archbishop will be keynote speaker for the day.
Liz Boughton, Young Vocations Advisor, Ministry Division of the Archbishops’ Council said: “We are delighted with the number of young adults recommended for ordained ministry last year. It’s great that an substantial number are having the confidence and support to hear and respond to God’s call to the priesthood. We welcome young people and value the gifts, enthusiasm and insights that they bring.”
The Bishop of Sheffield, Rt Revd Steven Croft, who is Chair of Ministry Division said: “The Church of England has a fresh vision and commitment to see people in their teens and twenties exploring God’s call to ministry.